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Christmas is cancelled.

This time of year is called many things, the festive season, the holiday season, the time of joy, the silly season, and so many different titles. This year however Christmas is not going ahead in the city where it all originated. 

Bethlehem, considered the Christmas capital, has cancelled official christmas celebrations due to the ongoing attack on Palestine. It has been almost 12 weeks since the escalation of conflicts and attacks occurring in Palestine, yet there is still no permanent ceasefire and the casualties and the destruction still continue. This is why it is so important to continue to talk about Palestine. Some people are talking less and less about it as we are further away from the date, but this crisis is not just 11 weeks old, it is a long fight throughout generations of Palestineans fighting for their rightful land. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Palestine. If he had been alive right now it is very likely he would be one of the thousands of children and adults killed or buried underneath rubble from Israeli attacks. 

We need to speak up, we need to raise awareness, we need to be the voices for those being silenced and killed. Right now as we get ready to come together as family, friends and relatives, those in Palestine are fighting for their own survival. 

In Bethlehem, a Lutherian church is currently displaying a sombre yet sobering Christmas message. They have created a nativity scene which depicts baby jesus swaddled in a kaffiyeh, the distinctive Palestinian scarf, surrounded by the rubble created by the state of Israel. Reverend Munther Isaac, the pastor, said that they hoped the image portrayed the suffering of families right now in Gaza. He also stated:

“While the world celebrates Christmas with big festivities, in the homeland of Christmas, children are being killed, homes are being destroyed and families displaced,”

“We want to remind the world of the suffering of Palestinians, the injustice we go through so it can hopefully challenge the world to work for peace.

The idea to display the nativity scene in this way came from the countless images the world is seeing daily of the destruction and suffering happening to Palestine and occupied land and in particularly the images we are seeing of children alive or not, being pulled out from the rubble , Rev Isaac also said:

“We are tired of the world rationalising and justifying the killing of our children in Gaza.”

Right now a large majority of people are celebrating this festive season while people in Palestine suffer, with no safe place for themselves and their loved ones. We need to keep talking about what is happening and shouting for those who are being ignored or silenced by governments, media and society. In solidarity with their brethren in Gaza, many Christian clergy in Palestine have cancelled their festivities also, until the current campaign in Gaza reaches a permanent ceasefire. 

Christmas time brings in a lot of tourism to Palestine and helps stimulate their economy however this year celebrations are officially cancelled but Palestine still needs us, now more than ever. Many Palestinians agree that Christmas is one of the permanent and long-sustaining Palestinian Symbols. 

In religion, the figure of Jesus is seen to be representative of blessings, peace and hope. Christmas is a time when these values are to be reflected with the famed “Christmas spirit” however the country of origin is facing brutal attacks and violence.

As of December 22nd, The Gaza Health Ministry has said that at least 20,000 people have died from the Israeli attacks and that another 50,000 people in Gaza have been wounded. Of these deaths, the ministry has said 70% are women and children.

This time of year is a time for us to all come together, and have rest and joy where we can, so this year while you are safe please take time to think of those in Palestine and speak up for them. Tell your family at Christmas lunch, continue sharing images and videos of what is happening, and continue raising the topic because we cannot continue to let them suffer.


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